Teacher Alleges Discrimination, Segregation in Ca. Union

Newman v. EGEA

CASE SUMMARY

Federal nondiscrimination laws apply to unions, but a California teachers’ union effectively bars white members from running for a particular executive board seat. History teacher Isaac Newman is suing the union under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to prevent it from, as he alleges in his complaint, segregating its members and imposing a racial litmus test on those seeking the union leadership position.

Teacher Objects to Racial Politics in Union & School District


Isaac Newman teaches history in Elk Grove Unified School District in the suburbs of Sacramento, California. He has been a member of the local teachers’ union, the Elk Grove Education Association (EGEA), for about 10 years.

Isaac wants to focus on educating students, but he believes his union’s advocacy for DEI principles, which the district also supports through 28 hours of mandatory trainings, makes it harder for teachers to do their jobs. So, he resolved to change the union from within by joining its executive board.

Union Adopts Racial Litmus Test for Leadership Position


In 2023, Isaac’s union created a “BIPOC At-Large” board position, which was approved by the local union’s statewide affiliate, the California Teachers Association. To run for this board seat, a candidate must complete a nomination form and check a box confirming that the candidate “self-identifie[s]” as a member of a racial minority group.

Above: Screenshot of the checkbox on the EGEA’s board candidacy form.

Isaac filled out the nomination form but could not in good conscience check the box. He was, therefore, barred from running for the board seat simply because of the color of his skin.

Teacher Sues Union for Discrimination & Segregation


To defend his rights, Isaac filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the union violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which says it is unlawful for a “labor organization” to “discriminate against… any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

The complaint alleges the union’s racially segregated board seat violates state law, too. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits “discriminat[ion] against any person because of… race… in the election of officers of the labor organization.”

Isaac’s goals are to force union officials to end the “BIPOC At-Large” board seat, prevent the union from creating similar positions that discriminate based on race, and stop the union from racially segregating its members and officials.

“Race-based discrimination is both immoral and illegal, yet my union has decided to segregate its ranks by imposing a racial litmus test as a requirement to run for this board seat. Union officials apparently believe that the best solution to America’s shameful history of discrimination is more discrimination. I believe that their actions are an illegal and a divisive distraction from our educational mission.” — Isaac Newman

Newman v. EGEA is before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

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CASE SUMMARY

Federal nondiscrimination laws apply to unions, but a California teachers’ union effectively bars white members from running for a particular executive board seat. History teacher Isaac Newman is suing the union under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to prevent it from, as he alleges in his complaint, segregating its members and imposing a racial litmus test on those seeking the union leadership position.

Teacher Objects to Racial Politics in union & School district


Isaac Newman teaches history in Elk Grove Unified School District in the suburbs of Sacramento, California. He has been a member of the local teachers’ union, the Elk Grove Education Association (EGEA), for about 10 years.

Isaac wants to focus on educating students, but he believes his union’s advocacy for DEI principles, which the district also supports through 28 hours of mandatory trainings, makes it harder for teachers to do their jobs. So, he resolved to change the union from within by joining its executive board.

Union adopts racial litmus test for leadership position


In 2023, Isaac’s union created a “BIPOC At-Large” board position, which was approved by the local union’s statewide affiliate, the California Teachers Association. To run for this board seat, a candidate must complete a nomination form and check a box confirming that the candidate “self-identifie[s]” as a member of a racial minority group.

Isaac filled out the nomination form but could not in good conscience check the box. He was barred from running for the board seat simply because of the color of his skin.

Teacher Sues Union for Discrimination & Segregation


To defend his rights, Isaac filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the union violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which says it is unlawful for a “labor organization” to “discriminate against… any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

The complaint alleges the union’s racially segregated board seat violates state law, too. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits “discriminat[ion] against any person because of… race… in the election of officers of the labor organization.”

Isaac’s goals are to force union officials to end the “BIPOC At-Large” board seat, prevent the union from creating similar positions that discriminate based on race, and stop the union from racially segregating its members and officials.

“Race-based discrimination is both immoral and illegal, yet my union has decided to segregate its ranks by imposing a racial litmus test as a requirement to run for this board seat. Union officials apparently believe that the best solution to America’s shameful history of discrimination is more discrimination. I believe that their actions are an illegal and a divisive distraction from our educational mission.” — Isaac Newman

Newman v. EGEA is before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

Documents

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“I cannot say enough about how pleased I am to have the Fairness Center in my corner as my case advances, especially in this day and age of unions becoming more involved in political issues instead of unconditionally representing those for whom they were created.”
– John Grande, PE Teacher

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